Pete Segall sends along a terrific article from the Washington Post that catches up with former Maryland star Byron Mouton, an unsung hero of the 2002 NCAA Champion Terps who’s currently eating poorly and earning worse while biding his time with the ABA’s Wilmington Sea Dawgs.
“Everybody on our team was shocked when he didn’t [get drafted],” said Juan Dixon, a former Maryland point guard who plays for the Toronto Raptors. “It didn’t seem fair. Without Byron, we don’t even get close to winning it in 2002. He might have been the best all-around guy on that team, but that’s the story of his career. He just gets overlooked.”
A few times during the last six months, Mouton has considered quitting. This season, he’s slid deep into the backwash of professional basketball. He played for a team in Montana that folded in December. Then Mouton joined an ABA team in Cape Cod that never paid him and played its home games at a middle school. Wilmington…provided Mouton’s opportunity to escape.
Mouton invests himself emotionally in Wilmington’s success, which his teammates generally view as pathetic. In a league that comprises players obsessed with building stat lines that please scouts, Mouton prides himself on leadership and self-sacrifice in pursuit of winning. During a pregame meal at Chick-fil-A in late February, Mouton tried to excite his teammates for a game against the Jacksonville Jam.
“I’ve been looking on the ABA message boards,” Mouton said. “Jacksonville is like number eight in the league power rankings. That’s a few spots ahead of us.”
“Nobody cares about this league, man,” said Terrence Todd, Mouton’s teammate. “Eat your chicken nuggets.”
Terrence Todd, your agent’s phone is ringing. There’s a lot more in the piece, some of it depressing (the 250-strong crowd at a Sea Dawgs home game), some of it frightening (a Chinese league in which games were played outdoors, sometimes in the rain), and some of it poignant. And then there’s this:
Mouton spends much of his time in Wilmington talking about his plans for this summer. During a two-hour conversation with a teammate late one night, he outlined his possibilities: to take real estate classes, which will facilitate a transition to his next career; to intern at the tobacco company where his brother works; to play in a Puerto Rican league that pays $15,000 per month; to play in a California summer league frequented by NBA scouts.
He loves talking about his future. It’s the easiest way not to get stuck in the past.
“You know what else I want to do?” Mouton said. “I want to enter some of those professional bass fishing contests. Man, I love fishing. I love it. And the thing is, you just never know. Maybe 10 years from now, people will be remembering me as the king of bass.”
That brother would be former Texas star Brandon Mouton, by the way. As for the “king of bass” part, Byron should probably check with this guy before claiming that title.